Five Things to Know About 2014 Back-to-School Marketing

July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

UnknownBack-to-school is in full swing now.  The traditional back-to-school season has changed and marketers need to make note.  The reason for many of these changes are year-round school schedules, just-in-time shopping, online shopping habits and budgets.  The back-to-school season has become more of a pinnacle of an ongoing activity than a confined season.

How big is back-to-school?  The average family will spend $670 on shopping this year, up 5% from 2013 according to the National Retail Federation.   However, 21% of families with children in elementary, middle school or high school reported in a NRF survey they will spend less this year.

Did you know?  Combined school and college spending was estimated at $72.5 billion, making it the second-biggest season for retailers. Winter holiday ranks first at $84 billion and Mother’s Day comes in at third at $21 billion.

Here are five things to know about this year.

1.  Back-to-school shopping starts in July.  Americans began their search as early as June last year.  Google conducted a study during the 2013 season and found that 23% of respondents began back-to-school research before July 4, with nearly two-thirds (65%) starting by the end of July. In contrast, only 35% said they made a purchase by the end of July.  174621

BTS-Content-ConsumptionThe spending is spread out over several months, with traditional spending in August and September.  The early shoppers take advantage fresh merchandise, early bird sales and comparison shopping, while the later shoppers are necessity shopping and maybe taking advantage of end-of-season sales.

One difference in the early and traditional shopper may be their form of shopping.  The early shoppers are using their desktop and tablets to shop, while the more traditional are using mobile devices and shopping in-store.

During back-to-school 2013, competitive pricing was the top use of mobile, with 66 percent of shoppers planning to use their smartphones to obtain price information and 60 percent to obtain discounts, coupons, or sale information–up 15 percentage points from 2012.  There is a whopping 78% of smartphone owners using their mobile devices for shopping.

2.  Just in time shopping.   The mall has been replaced by online and teens are constantly shopping for new ideas.  The world of disposable fashion has lead teens to take advantage of affordable retailers and wait to see what their friends are wearing.  Digital-native students are shopping constantly throughout the year, even if they’re not buying.

Just-in-time shopping also shows that as many as 50% parents only buy what is essential for back to school and then buy additional needs during the holiday season, when they expect the best deals.  It is a way of spreading out the shopping expense to make it more manageable for their budget.  And parents are saving money by buying store-brand items, shopping sales and using coupons.

3. Online is #3 destination.   eMarketer forecasts that digital sales for the back-to-school season will increase 16.0% in 2014.  One-third of all back-to-school shoppers will make an online purchase, and 45% of back-to-college shoppers will head online.  According to Deloitte, among top back-to-school shopping destinations in 2013, 36 percent of consumers shopped online, moving online shopping to the third destination behind discount and office supply/technology stores, a significant jump from the No. 8 position in 2012.

9754-1652-140701-Back_to_School-l4.  College Online Spending Big.  More than $3 of every $5 aimed at back-to-school clothes and supplies is spent on college-bound students.   A PM Digital report shows online shoppers stealing 37% of this market as the online college segment spends over $1,100 per family.  In fact, shopping expenditures are higher online – with 37.3% K-12 and 37.1% college students buying through e-commerce.

5.  Smartphone Tool for Shopping.  During back-to-school 2013, competitive pricing was the top use of mobile, with 66 percent of shoppers planning to use their smartphones to obtain price information and 60 percent to obtain discounts, coupons, or sale information–up 15 percentage points from 2012. There is a whopping 78% of smartphone owners using their mobile devices for shopping.

What should marketers do this season?

1.  Make sure your campaigns are live now and active through September.  To stand out, thing about using video and consumer stories to help tell the story.  Search should be already in place.

2.  Make sure content is available on tablet and mobile.  Don’t forget social. Hashtags like #stapleshasit and L.L.Bean’s #packmentality, which leapt from social media into display, email and print last season, will proliferate in 2014.

3.  Solicit stories from your customers to drive positive reviews.

4.  Time your sales (early-bird and end of season) to match buying periods.

5.  Differentiate between back-to-school and back-to-college.




Marketing to Women: Are We Addicted to the Internet?

January 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

Do you get that panicky feeling if you forget your phone?  Do you suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)?  Well, you are not alone.

More than half  (55%) of respondents to a Siteopia study of internet usage feel they are addicted to the internet, while almost 62% of us admit we “need’ the internet to function in everyday life.   

One in ten of those participating said they can’t go longer than ten minutes during the day without catching up on social media or email.

The Siteopia study of 2,000 internet users reported that, on average,  most respondents only go a maximum of 90 minutes during the day without checking Facebook, Twitter or email.

Many of us are using mobile as the device of choice for checking in and updating our status – 10% of people now access the internet primarily on their mobile, with 5% accessing primarily via tablet.  75% have already been online before 9am every day, with almost one in five checking their e-mail or catching up on social media during their commute to work.

A whopping 62% now do all their banking online.   A third do all of their clothes shopping online, with free returns and delivery becoming an ever more common feature.

How Many Devices Do You Use?

I am on my laptop as I write now, but earlier today I used my iPad and iPhone to check in.  Seems I am fairly normal – the average internet user can now get online via three different devices.  But some 10% of us have as many as five devices, illuminating the growth of smart devices like televisions and gaming consoles.

Usage by Gender

Surprisingly, even though women spend more time with online shopping and social media, it’s men who spend more than 19 hours a week online – more than 42 solid days each year, and over a third longer than women, who only spend 14 hours per week surfing the web.  Men spend more time on news, Twitter, gaming and Not Safe for Work sites.


Marketing to Women: Get a Mobile Mindset for 2013

January 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Nielsen has released a new report containing facts on how US consumers use different forms of media and devices. The information on  the top 8 activities performed on mobiles is fascinating, or at least I think so.


The top activity is texting, consuming 14.1% of our time.  Messaging (texting, email and instant messaging) compose 14.1% of our time, or one-fifth of our time on our mobile devices.  The lifeline for most of us is our texts and emails.

The second most consuming usage is social networks because we evidently all have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), so we spend a whopping 10% of our time on social networks.  Actually dialing someone up and having a conversation only consumes about 5.5% of our time.   The other usage is consumed with browsing the internet, listening to music, using maps and our camera.  The mobile usage differs from our computer usage – which is geared to a variety of other activities.  One thing is the same – we spend a lot of time on social media.  Computer usage of social media is 20.1%, versus 10% of our mobile time.

And in terms of usage, 56% of mobile users have smartphones.  Eighty-five (85) million of us use social media apps on our smartphones, compared with 164 million have access to social media from their computers.

The bottom line is that each month, consumers are spending more time with more media, across all devices, and smart marketers need to understand the role of mobile in our daily lives.  We use mobile to stay connected, to manage our schedules, and the shop.  Some 78% of us use our smartphones to find a store, 63% check prices online and 22% comment on purchases.

Marketing Healthcare to Women: 1/2 Seeking Healthcare Info on Smartphone

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Half of us have a smartphone in our pocket or purse at all times.  Some 85% of US adults own a cell phone and a fast growing number of those cellphones (53%) are smartphones.  So it is no surprise that one in three of all cell phone users have used their phone to look up healthcare information, up from 17% in 2010.

According to the Pew Internet/CHCF Health Survey released this month, smartphone users lead the way in this activity.  One-half of smartphone owners have used their devices to get health information and one-fifth have health apps.

What does this mean for healthcare marketers?  There needs to be easily accessible information available for mobile users.  Websites are being built in responsive design to meet this growing need.  Marketers should begin to offer important information and interactions with patients and caregivers through mobile apps.

Another indicator of healthcare usage is a change or crisis in health conditions.  Caregivers who have recently had a medical crisis, or individuals who have had a significant change in their physical health are more likely to use their phones to look for health information.  Some of these conditions include gaining/losing a lot of weight, becoming pregnant or quitting smoking.

Health Apps are popular with smartphone users.  About one in five have at least one type of health app.  Women smartphone users (23%) tend to use health apps more than men (16%).  The most popular apps are exercise, diet and weight apps.

Some 38% of health app users track their exercise, 31% monitor their diet, and 12% use an app to manage their weight. Other health apps track menstrual cycles, blood pressure, pregnancy, blood sugar or diabetes, and medication.

Some demographic groups are more likely to look for health information -Latinos, African Americans, those between the ages of 18 and 49, and college graduates.

Marketing to Women: Staying Connected on Your Trip Abroad.

July 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sorry, I haven’t posted lately. I have been out of the country for a couple of weeks, traveling with friends, and here is what I learned about staying in touch.  Or Why it’s a Small, Small, Small World after all.

•  WiFi is the glue to your connectedness.   If you have access to WiFi, you are just as connected as you want to be.  (Emphasis on want to be.)  Yes, time differences can wreak havoc with response times, but you can catch up on all the news you want and keep up with your emails.

•  FaceTime and Skype are your friends.  I love FaceTime.  (Confession:  I am Apple through and through.)  Facetime was the most reliable way to connect with my family while I was gone.  I was able to share a whole baklava experience with my daughter because of Facetime. And when you are missing someone special there is nothing better than a little Facetime.  My husband is going to have to convert to an iPhone (from a Droid), so that I can connect with him that way.   Skype is also a great friend when traveling.  The Skype apps make calling a cinch. And it makes those pesky international charges a thing of the past.

•  Texting provided the essential communication.  Regardless of WiFi connectedness, the texting allowed for communication among my group and sent the important travel news home.  It is covered on most plans and is unlimited so it is the go-to communication for travel essentials like arrival times.  Yes, planes are still late and a handy update is always essential for those on the other end of your travels.

• iPhone as Camera.  I am not a great photographer and with my new iPhone, I didn’t even need a separate camera.  I just shot photos with my iPhone.  And anyone that knows me, knows that I take pictures of every meal I eat on vacation.  So my iPhone worked well for snapshots of friends and my seafood extravaganza.

• My new iPad never let me down.  I didn’t need a laptop.  My iPad was fast, efficient and handy.  I downloaded a travel guide to my iBooks that was extremely helpful.  I also read two books on my trip.  The Pulse app kept all my news handy in one place and USA Today kept me informed on important stuff like the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes break-up and the passing of everyone’s favorite Andy Griffith.  And of course, the longer battery life on the iPad allows for longer reading times.  I only recharged it three times in two weeks, and my iPhone and iPad charger worked great with my power adapter.

• Social Media rules.  New friends I met on my trip wanted to Facebook me and it was a handy solution to keeping in touch with friends overseas.  My overseas friends were kind to mention that they often read The Lipstick Economy.   I also kept up with the news at home through Facebook and I didn’t miss any birthdays while I was gone.  Facebook also allows for quick messaging when you don’t have someone’s email at your fingertips.  We could even update folks at home through social media and had a dedicated blog for the trip for those who wanted to keep up with us.

• Weather Updates.  My Weather Channel app was essential to keeping up with the weather in Greece and at home.  When I was sweating in Greece, it was important to know that there was an all-time heat wave in Nashville.  Also, keeping up with the heat was important to our water consumption as we climbed over ruins, navigated bus schedules and trekked through city centers.

• Translator Apps can be invaluable.  I should have used it more than I did, but WiFi accessibility limited use of it.  But a translator app is a great friend when you can’t tell the difference between a bath gel and a juice box.

•  Local cell phone is an option.  If you are spending a great deal of time in a city and need to connect with folks in the city, a local pre-paid cell phone might be an option.  I used one to connect with friends locally and it was a big help when you were lost or needed to make a quick call.

Do you have some travel hints?  Let us know what they are.

Marketing to Women: A Gadget for Each Generation

July 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

Just read an interesting study from media research firm Affinity that suggests that each generation has its favorite gadget. Their findings suggest that e-readers are for baby boomers, PC tablets for Gen Xers and smartphones for millennials.

Baby Boomer:  Surveying more than 60,000 consumers, Affinity found that 12 percent of U. S. adults own an e-reader, with owners of the readers skewing female and baby boomer.   The e-reader is mostly an at-home device.

Gen X:  The Gen-Xers are 16% more likely to have a tablet and almost a fourth of them plan to purchase one.  This compares with the current 8% of consumers that currently own a tablet.  With tablets, men are more likely to be owner than women.  Affluent Gen-Xers are 63% more likely to buy a table than their peers.

Millennials:  Smartphones are the device of choice for millennials who are 28% more likely to own a smartphone than average.  After all, these millennials do not have a land line and depend on their smartphone for almost everything.

But there is another category that this study overlooked:  it’s the crazed Apple lover Mom of all generations that has an iPhone, a MacBook, and iPad – and wonders why anyone would ever want a Kindle. (Confession:  I fall into that category)  These are the folks that are hooked on entertainment, the cool factor, convenience and integration, and the beautiful design of Apple products.  According to NPD, the number of moms who purchased iPhones grew 132 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over sales recorded during the same time last year.

Marketing to iPhone Moms: The Fastest Growing Buyers of iPhones

July 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

We knew it, long before most marketing executives realized it.  Oh, yes, it seems that they knew online Moms were important.  But here’s the new news for some folks:  Moms are the fastest-growing buyers of iPhones.  They are also voracious users of  search, media, music, social media, news and photos.  Go to any carpool line, sports game, coffee shop or grocery store, and you will see Moms armed for the daily battle of juggling kids, shopping, exercise, friends and careers.

According to NPD, the number of moms with smartphones is about equal to men of the same age, but they are adopting the technology at a faster pace. The number of moms who purchased iPhones grew 132 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the same time last year — outpacing men, who rose by 121 percent, according to NPD. Overall, adult purchases of the smartphone grew 117 percent.

Currently, 25% of folks with smartphones use the device as their main connection to the internet.  Currently 63% of all internet traffic comes from computers, but in 2015, some predict that less than 50% of web traffic will come from computers, reflecting the rise in smartphone usage.

What’s the attraction with an iPhone?  I think it is the headstart that Apple got with apps for adults and children, Google maps,  the seamless beauty of an integrated iTunes/ iPod, a decent camera, the miracle of FaceTime, iBooks and a fashion forward sense of style.  I mean, who is secure enough to run ads that say “If you don’t have an iPhone, well,  you don’t have an iPhone”.

So what are some takeaways for marketing to iPhone moms?  Make sure you have a mobile friendly website or an app.  Realize that comparison shopping is happening all the time, everywhere.  Integrate social media into all your web entities because life’s a 24/7 conversation.  Recognize that consumer reviews can make or break you so you have to respond to reviews.  And start testing mobile advertising.

So what am I doing right now?  Checking all the techy sites, trying to learn what the new iPhone 5 is going to bring us Moms.

If you are interested in participating in the SocialMoms Benchmark Study to help SocialMoms understand how social networking and technology is changing our lives, click here:

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